Friday, April 29, 2011

v2, d326: Random Nintendo Game of the Month

Editor's note: Apparently, the ROM of this game I played was a little better than half speed.  Still, I think many of my critiques stand.

You asked for it, you (eventually) got it!  Another RNGOTM!

Today, I played a game I'd never heard of called Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum.  This box makes it look way more fun than it actually is. 

You play a guy named Dash Galaxy who, for some reason, is in an alien asylum.  You crawl through rooms on different floors of the asylum collecting keys to get out.  You have pretty much no offensive weapons.  The floors themselves are overhead puzzles where you push blocks out of the way to access individual rooms, which are side-scrollers with enemies that roam back and forth in the same patterns, so it's sort of about timing.  You don't have a life bar, you have an oxygen bar.  Running, climbing, jumping, these things do not deplete your oxygen supply, but getting bumped by enemies does.  So it's basically a life bar.  You walk painfully slowly, but after about three or four uninterrupted strides you go from walking to running, which allows you to take a running leap.  (A standing jump is much higher, but you travel so very slowly in the air)  Also, there are trampolines.  If you press the B button, the game tells you that you don't have any bombs.  Unless, of course, you happen to have a bomb.  Then it just lays the bomb and you can blow crap up. Most useful on the overhead map puzzle screens, I found, but there aren't many bombs, at least not early in the game.  Oh, and the select button is awesome.  If you press select, you instantly deplete your entire oxygen supply.  That's right, select = suicide in this game.  How useful is that???

Speaking of useful, Dash's clothes flash different colors.  Just 'cause.  

The hardest part of Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum is neither the puzzles nor the timing element, however.  Rather, the greatest challenge Dash has to offer is maintaining your sanity while the soundtrack grates against your very will to live.

Loop these through your head for ten minutes or so. 

And now for the spoilers: if you win, you get...

Fireworks and the word "CONGRATULATIONS!!!"

Dash Galaxy needs a better agent.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

v2, d325: Lame

So today (yesterday) is (was) Embrace the Lame Day.  It's the national holiday where you're supposed to stand up proudly and declare all the little things in your life which most people would probably consider, well, at least a little bit silly.  All your nerdish, geek-out, aren't-you-too-old-for-that tendencies magnified with pride, usually via your blog or social media and generally in the form of a list.  Dave made it up, and I briefly rescued the cause in 2009 when he was blogger-incapacitated.  I've done a poor job of 'splaining it, but hey, it's 12:30 and I've been past exhausted since about six this evening.  (I did manage to get the dishes done and cook some hamburgers so Kim doesn't have to cook dinner while I'm at work tomorrow night, though!)

Honestly, I can't think of anything about me that would constitute "Lame" that we haven't already covered at least once here at FOMW. I mean, if you don't already know my lamer tendencies, dear readers, you just aren't paying attention.  If you want a 'list,' all I can say is pick a month on the left-hand side of this blog.  Just about any month will do.  Now, skim the blog topics.  Yeah.  I pretty much embrace my lameness 365.  I like to think it's part of my charm. 

Tune in next time, when we'll probably talk about Thor, the Playoffs, my fantasy novel, or the fact that I'm actually kind of intrigued by the next X-Men movie now that I've seen the international trailer. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

v2, d324: Filmed In Front of a Live Studio Audience

Today a film crew came to work to spend a full day shooting our 35-minute one-act Christmas comedy, A Christmas of Many Parts.  For one of the takes (I think they shot five?), they wanted an audience to be visible in the first couple of rows, so those of us who weren't in the cast got to play the role of Mike and the Robots (sans snappy commentary and silhouette humor, unfortunately). I understand there was a lot of drama involved as the day unfolded, and I can't imagine how exhausting it must have been to run that show for basically a full eight hour work day, but my part of it was pretty fun once it got started.  I just got to sit and watch a really funny Christmas show performed by some of my favorite actors.  And I was supposed to laugh at all the parts that were supposed to be funny.  And then afterwards, they recorded some "laugh tracks" of the twenty or so of us in the audience.  It was pretty funny, because there we all were, laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing.  Laughter is infectious, though, and after awhile it got so absurd we were laughing at each other laughing (or laughing because we felt like idiots).  After awhile, the guy told us to quit laughing and said "Now let's record some applause."  "Now a little chuckle."  "Now the show has just ended and it's time to go home."  I was like, What sound do you want for that?  Jingling keys?  Small talk?  Stand-up-and-stretch noises?  But apparently that just meant applause again.

On the whole, today was pretty good for me.  We got out the door without incident this morning, I thought Bible study/sharing time went pretty well, we got Kim's disability payments squared away, everything went pretty well at home, Kim, Isaac, and Robbie all got to bed by 9 p.m., Robbie didn't throw a single fit or tantrum and did everything the first time I asked, we had a great supper, and Hawks/Canucks game seven was amazing.  Also, Tarvis' front tooth didn't break off today.  So good times all around.  We'll see if we can make that a theme this week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

v2, d323: Commentary

The past couple of nights, I've usually been doing one thing while a hockey game plays in the background.  I can usually tell when I actually need to look up and watch.  Tonight, I'm listening to/watching what appears to be San Jose's local station covering the Kings/Sharks game six.  It's kind of funny, because one commentator seems to know a lot more about hockey than the other, so he's trying to contradict his colleague without embarrassing him.   Anyway, this has been a ca-razy series. 

Also, LOTS of overtime in round one. 

Hey, I'm really glad I posted that Joey the Junior Reporter clip a few days ago, because the very next morning Puck Daddy shared a Q&A with the Kid Himself.

Last hockey note: the Aeros will play Milwaukee in the next round.  Because that's always what we do after we play Peoria.

My family's home, the new router is here, life is good.  Actually, I had a very good weekend.  I spent about 12  hours at work on Saturday, did four shows total, saw Hanna with Hannah (so that's a bit redundant), read three and a half books, did some housework, wrote a short screenplay, counted and hid 1500 Easter eggs, got a decent amount of sleep, went for a run, took in lots of playoff hockey, and went to Sunday night church with friends (since my own Easter church experience had been counting and hiding 1500 Easter eggs).  I also ate Spaghetti-O's, Lean Pockets, nachos, and bowls of full-leaf spinach.  And Easter candy.    Healthy?  No.  Diversified?  Definitely.

I know I still haven't written much about the Barbara Bush story, but the more I thought about it the more I realized there really isn't a whole lot to share.  Her foundation for family literacy decided to come to our theater to see the show I wrote and directed.  They used the Pinocchio story as the basis for an essay contest for a local elementary school so they brought the school to see the show.  After the show, Mrs. Bush announced the winners and then took a picture with the cast.  Fun thing is, nineteen years ago, I was in Washington as the Kansas recipient of the Jefferson Award (which was a pretty cool deal, really) and the winners were supposed to get to meet President and Mrs. Bush, but she we ill (or so they said!) so we didn't get to.  Nineteen years later...I still haven't actually met her.  But I did put her podium in the wrong place.  So that's a step in the right direction. 

Finally, I'ma ask for your prayers this week.  Kim goes back to work tomorrow, and Isaac is going to day care for the first time, too.  This is obviously going to be a HUGE transition for all of us.  So we'd appreciate any prayers that it goes as smoothly as it can. 

Oh look. Kings/Sharks going to overtime. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

v2, 322: TGIGF?

I always want to say something spiritual on Good Friday. I want to throw out a slew of applicable scriptures to cause anybody who might creep across my insignificant corner of the Internet to take pause and consider the grace of God in case they hadn't already done so.  I really want to sound wise or contemplative, especially since I often feel that way inside my head though I can rarely get it come across in twelve-point-font.  (Smart-aleck response: try typing in 10!)  Many, many of my friends have very inspirational blog posts and Twitter feeds this weekend, and I want to join their ranks, but when I sit to type it just rarely works.  Because despite all the inspiring or profound or appropriate thoughts that have been tossed out there already today, I want to add my two cents as well.  After all, I know I should.  It's Good Friday, for crying out loud!  I'm embarrassed by my inability to string together at least a list of Bible verses to help others reflect upon the momentous occasion this day represents, the day the future of this planet was irrevocably changed.  And what's funny is, just reflecting on this weekend gets my mind spinning with at least four or five subjects that I think could make for really good blog topics.  It's just that they all seem to stall out after a decent introductory word or phrase, and I'm stuck frustrated back at square one. 

Then I'm reminded: Good Friday is exactly about everything I couldn't do and can't do.  Nothing I can add or plan or create can change that it's His work of grace that saves me.  When words fail me, He doesn't. That I'm woefully insufficient in this matter only underscores the point.  It's never been about what I can bring to the table.  The good things that I do in Christ's name are significant in His sight, but they add nothing to the cross, nor do they ease the burden He took on in my name one bit.  Likewise, my consistent failures and insecurities did not make His choice to take the cup of God's wrath any more difficult after His prayer in Gethsemene. 

So today, I'll leave you all with this: I've tried today to be artistic, clever, lucid, theological, intelligent, encouraging, contemplative--in a word, worthy--but in the end, all I've got is the cross. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

v2, d321: Back In Blacks

Just a little bit of playoffs, to get it out of my system:

* Marion Gaborik, you pretty much ended the Rangers season.  You'd better come back with four goals tomorrow night after that.  Wow.

* I can't wait till this Pens/Bolts series is over. Every game just makes me sad.

* Gee, Coyotes. Thanks for showing up...

* Awesome: The third comment underneath this T3I blog post.

* Finally, the Blackhawks are most likely going to be done after tonight.  Which is kind of a bummer, because I'd been holding out hope for a playoff edition report from Joey the Junior Reporter.

Okay, on to business.

Tonight we open our special Easter presentation.  This year's show is a one-act called Stet.  Because my family is out of town this weekend anyway, I volunteered to be our sound op/running crew for the show since, let's face it, people have been covering for me pretty handily since November or so when Kim as in the hospital with Isaac.  Also, I haven't had to run crew for a show on the mainstage since The Mousetrap in October of 2005.  So I figure it's my turn to give someone a break around here. 

And if you'd like to know the truth, I really like working a show.  Sure, it sucks when I have to be out every night or four nights a week for an extended period of time because then my kids forget who I am.  But (as I know I've said before) I really do love being at the theater on a show night (or morning, or afternoon, depending on the occasion).  Even though you pretty rarely watch the show anymore by the time it's open.  (It's a great time to catch up on some reading!)  The theater is just a fun place to be.  And let's face it: theatre work is really the only thing I know very well.  I've been doing it--professionally, even--in some form or other almost non-stop for a full decade now.  Even when it loses the buzz it used to have, there's still a certain "rightness" about it. 

Anyway, I don't want to blog for too long. I have a lot of writing-type assignments to get through by Monday and I'd hate to say something clever or interesting on here lest I unintentionally deplete my quota of interesting/clever things to write for the day.  But I did want to check in, rag on Gaborik a little bit, and let you know what I'll be up to this weekend.  Stet. and spaghetti-o's. 

(By the way, "Stet" is a Latin word used by proofreaders to instruct the typesetters to disregard a change the editor had originally marked.  Specifically, it most often regards leaving in a word, phrase, or passage that was originally marked to be removed)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

v2, d320: Tidbits (waiting for a new modem) (edit: hey, they all start with 'S'!)

* Should have a new modem by the end of the week.  Possibly Monday, though, since this is Easter weekend.

* Sorry, not writing about Barbara Bush today.  Got called in to today's Big Hairy Important Meeting at the last minute, and that just sorta has a tendency to suck a lot of motivation/creativity out of you.  Though the free lunch was appreciated.

* Speaking of food, I have yet to figure out what I'm going to be eating while my family is in Oklahoma this weekend.

* So glad I stayed up to watch the entirety of last night's LA/San Jose game.  The Kings had a 4-0 lead just a minute and a half into the second period.  The Sharks pulled their Cup-winning (last year with Chicago) goalie and came all the way back to win 6-5 in overtime.  It was cra-zay.  Also the first time in 26 years a team has come back from down four or more to win in the playoffs and just the fourth time ever (I believe; may have been fifth).

* Still not quite as impressive as the Miracle on Manchester.

* SWEEP!  Aeros 2, Rivermen 1.  Mike Yeo's boys do a fantastic job of putting away a gritty, scrappy Peoria team quickly.  Now to sit back and rest while the rest of the league plays catch-up.

* Somebody please go to at least one Western Division Final game with me.  Please. Please?

* Spaghetti-O's.  That's what I'm eating while the family is gone.  Spaghetti-O's.

* See ya later, alligator.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

v2, d319: Absent

Hi all.

I'm absent, I know.  This is largely because our poor old modem is done for. I'm working to get that fixed as soon as I can, though this is tentatively going to be a hard week to get that done due to tech for the Easter show (I'm ASMing).  I'll try to post something tomorrow from work when I have a bit of time during my lunchbreak (today was pretty busy) about how, after nineteen years of waiting, I finally met Barbara Bush.  (Almost.  I'll explain next time)

Friday, April 15, 2011

v2, d318: Comments

* Checked out this article on MSN last night because it was late, I was bored, and I was waiting on the laundry to dry so I couldn't go to bed just yet.  It's called "Decode His Compliments: What He Thinks About Your Look."  And it goes on to quote several men and what they say when they don't actually like what their wives/girlfriends are wearing but are asked for their opinions anyway.  The insinuation here being that a man always has some hidden subtext when he pays a woman a compliment, especially in regards to appearance, and she should spend brain power trying to decipher it. 

Comment: AAAAARRRRGH!! Are you serious?  All right, ladies, I'm going to level with you: I can't speak for all men everywhere, but I will speak for myself.  If I say, "You look really nice today," it's because I think you look really nice.  If I say "That color looks good on you," it's because I think the color looks good on you.  In fact, in general when I pay a compliment, I actually mean...what I'm saying!  Don't dissect it, and please don't argue with it, just go with it.  Despite what MSN will have you believe, many men are not hiding a "but..." when they pay you a bit of flattery. 

I probably just shouldn't have read an article on relationships, actually...

* Another reason NHL playoffs are unlike anything else in sports: Playoff beards.  (Accidentally typed "playoff bears" the first time.  That's something completely different) For the uninformed: many, many players (and lately coaches, fans, front office workers, etc) don't shave from first postseason puck-drop till either they're eliminated or they've won the Cup.  Playoff Beards have become an integral part of hockey culture.  But I've had a few of you over the years ask me: what about the ladies?

Well, that question's finally been answered.  But you gotta ask yourself exactly how badly you want to know the answer...

Comment: Personally, I'd rather just stick with this commercial and let that satisfy my curiosity. 

* Finally, this is one of the coolest things you'll read this week. 

Comment: I knew the basics of this story about half a year ago: Kid loves minor-league hockey team, kid has terrible incurable illness, hockey team moves away, kid's parents decide to move to follow the team, team helps parents raise money to try to buy a house. The details brought forth in this account, however, are staggering.  What a tremendous story.  A+'s all around.  "I never knew that large, monopolizing corporations could be such a force for good in the world!"

Thursday, April 14, 2011

v2, d317: Top 7 Defunct Disneyland Rides

I love amusement parks. We've been over this.  I used to design my own as a hobby.  I always hated games like Roller Coaster Tycoon because I found them so limiting in their options for park and ride designs.  One of my favorite elements of heading to southern California for two weeks each summer when I was a kid was the fact that there was no shortage of people willing to take us kids out to a theme park or three.  I considered myself pretty good friends with Disneyland, Knott's Berry Farm, and (later) Six Flags Marine World, Great America, and even Universal to an extent.  But obviously, as time marches on, parks change.  Rides and shows come and go.  And eventually you do a quick web search to check in on your old friends and realize they're not quite the same as you remembered.  And sometimes, those changes hurt. 

With that in mind, here are my Top 7 Defunct Disneyland Rides

DISCLAIMER: Major thanks to for helping jog my memory.  It's an awesome site with a plethora of trivia tidbits.  For example, did you know that there was once an intimate apparel shop on Main Street complete with an animatronic figure named the Wizard of Bras who would teach you the history of underwear?  True story.

#7: Motor Boat Cruise

Okay, to be honest, there was never anything all that exciting about this ride, but without it my list was topping out at six.  Before they closed it for good, I remember there was a period where Disney converted a large section of Fantasyland into a Disney Afternoon stretch.  That meant lots of Duck Tales, Tale Spin, and Rescue Rangers pictures were thrown up, and there were maps and stamps you had to collect and shows and whatever.  Anyway, the only time I actually remember riding this ride, it had been half-heartedly converted into a Gummi Bears ride as part of that transition. 

Couldn't find an embeddable video of the ride itself, so here's all that's left. I believe they closed it down to make something cool, like Mikey's ToonTown or something. 

#6: The Skyway

This was a pretty fun way to get all the way across the park without walking.  Basically, you sit in a bucket and ride from Fantasyland to Tomorrowland suspended from a wire. You even went straight through the Matterhorn mountain, which was awesome.  Though it would frequently get stuck.  That was disconcerting.  Especially on windy days.  Nevertheless, it was fun.  Though undoubtedly dangerous.  I think some guy jumped from the skyway and then tried to sue the park, so they shut it down. 

I fond an embeddable vid, but instead I'll just provide this link to a better one that features an underscored version of A Whole New World underneath the video.  Cuz it's kinda awesome. 

#5: Mission to Mars

Mission to Mars was an update to what I believe was an original park attraction, Mission to the Moon.  It was probably pretty boring, and even by the time I rode it it wasn't nearly as technologically advanced as pretty much anything else there, but I think even then I found its lack of coolness to be cool.  Basically you step in and wait for the next mission, you get briefed by some animatronic scientists, then you go sit in this huge circular room with a portal (round TV screen) at the top and the bottom of the room.  Your rocket takes off (I don't remember if the seats shook or it was my imagination) and you can see Mars getting closer in the top screen while Earth gets smaller on the bottom one.  And after you go to Mars, you come back and the process reverses.  That's pretty much it, I think. 

It's now a pizza place.  Here's what the entrance used to look like from when I remember it:

#4: Country Bear Jamboree

Yes, this is the show they based the movie off of.  I never saw the movie.  I don't care to.  I know who the real Country Bears are.  I believe the full name was the Country Bear Jamboree Vacation Hoedown, but I don't think we ever called it anything but Country Bear Jamboree.  I think we caught the show every time we went, even though it never changed.  Walt Disney just loved robotic performers, didn't he?  My favorite part of this show was always the moose, elk, and buffalo heads on the wall.  A very creative show.  Some great characters.  And the audience always had a blast, every time I saw the show.

It's now a Winnie-the-Pooh ride.  It's okay. 

#3: Peoplemover

The People Mover (Through the World of Tron!) was basically a ride designed to get you excited about all the other rides. So you pretty much got a fairly relaxing tour of Tomrrowland and got a sample of all the rides, and for some reason that was the coolest thing to me.  Also, C-3PO!  And, before Kingdom Hearts 2, this ride was everything I knew about Tron. 

After shutting this ride down, they tried to put something new in it.  I never got a chance to ride the Rocket Rods, but they didn't last long.  Now it's just empty space.   The video quality here isn't great, but you'll get the idea.

#2: Submarine Voyage

I think part of the charm of this ride was that I figured out the trick.  You were in about seven feet of water the whole time, yet it felt so much like you were actually diving deeper.  This effect was achieved by shooting jets of bubbles past the portholes in the submarines at appropriate times.  Other than that, it was more animatronics, and you got everything from sharks to mermaids to giant squid to an awesome sea serpent at the end.  Plus, you were riding in a submarine!  I mean, how cool is that?  Now the line for this line was ALWAYS long because it took so long to unload and load each sub, but it was pretty much worth it.  Ultimately, however, this ride was dated, even when I was young, so they closed it.  It's a Finding Nemo ride now, which is a pretty good update.  They even reference the original quite a few times in the new ride, so well done, Disney. 

"Captain, we shouldn't report this in the log, should we?" "No.  Nobody would believe it anyway..."

#1:  America Sings

Okay, this is the one I'll never quite forgive Disney for getting rid of.  This show was awesome.  Again, it was Walt's love of Animatronic performers taking center stage. The entire theater rotated between sets.  It was awesome.  I have vivid memories of the whole audience clapping alone with "Yankee Doodle" during each blackout. It's a lightning-quick musical revue--like 30 or 45 seconds per song--but it's really thorough and fun.  I'm only posting the first part of it on here, but do yourself a favor and find the rest. 

Most of the cast is in Splash Mountain somewhere or other, so I'm glad they're still finding work, and the rotating building is now the Innoventions exhibit.  Which is not nearly as awesome.  Hard to believe that out of the three musical animatronic shows from my childhood, the Tiki Room is the one that survived.  (No disrespect to the birds who sing words, mind you)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

v2, d316: Don't be sad, but...

...I'm closing down the Wordslinger's Secret blog.

Most of y'all either didn't even know or else had completely forgotten that WBWPrime existed, didn't ya?

See, toward the end of my first go-round on this blog, I started up a secret blog where I was posting some rough drafts and some story ideas in process for a private audience.  I asked if anybody was interested and sent them peoples the invite.  I had one specific story I was working on the most, but I would pop other projects up on it.  Of course, if you've been following it, you know I haven't actually updated it in over a year.  (At least, you think you know that)  And updates were pretty sporadic even before that.  Thing is, I actually have been doing quite a bit of writing on there.  A few different short stories that I've begun and haven't gotten around to finishing yet.  And I hate to leave anybody hanging for months at a time, waiting for me to finish something up.  Also, I hate for that sort of project to become a place that does nothing but collect "Hey, you should update this sometime!" comments, so I'm just going to close it down to the public.  Or the private public, at least.  It still exists, but it exists more like my own private workshop.  Maybe someday some of those projects will see the light of day.  My guess is that most of them won't.  Just me stretching the artistic muscle a bit. Lately, I've been using it to jump-start some of my "I'll bet this is actually a bad idea" ideas or to push myself into places I as a writer don't naturally go.  And I don't think I need to share these experimental exercises.  It was a decent forum for what I originally wanted it to do, but there's no point to keeping up an old story that's 2/3 of the way done and just hoping I don't accidentally hit "publish" instead of "save now" and put something really embarrassing up for friends to see.

So don't be sad.  If I ever come up with something good over there, I'm sure I'll let y'all know about it.  And if you're one of those people who occasionally checks that blog and you suddenly notice you're no longer invited to the party, don't take it personally.  The party's over.

It was a lame party anyway.  They didn't have any punch, the snacks consisted of chickpeas and toast with no spread, and all the music was early-1990's Amy Grant. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

v2, d315: Playoffs? You're talking about PLAYOFFS???

Yes, yes, we're talking about playoffs, because they start tomorrow. Both the NHL and AHL will begin their post-seasons tomorrow.  Every year at this time, I feel a mix of anticipation and dread.  Anticipation because, let's face it, hockey's playoffs are freaking awesome. Dread because, jeez, it takes a lot out of you by the end of it.  I mean, this is two months of high-stakes hockey.  There is so much freaking drama from puck drop to Cup raise.  If you really follow the whole thing from A to Z, you're pretty worn out.  Especially if your team has a long run.  Two years ago, when the Aeros had that awesome run to Game Six of the Semifinal and the Pens won the Cup, I was so ready for the off-season.  (It helps the summer go by easier when your team is the Cup champ, by the way) 

Anyway, it all starts again tomorrow.  And already there are some great stories, some great rivalries, some heroes and villains.  And there are still (apparently) 378,000 seconds of hockey to play.  That's a lot of nerve-wrenching clock-watching

In the past, I've often tried to do an in-depth preview of each series.  But really, that's too much work, and there are much better ones out there already.  I'll just give you a very basic run-down of what's going on and what to look for in the first round. 

In the east:
#1 Washington Capitals vs #8 New York Rangers
The Caps (remember, I hate them) have never been past the second round.  They historically struggle against low-seeded teams.  They typically have trouble with strong shot-blocking teams riding a hot goalie.  Now, there's a lot of attitude on this team, a lot of spunk, but not a lot of stepping up to the plate in the playoffs.  So who do they draw?  A good shot-blocking low-seeded team with a goalie who's got a penchant for hot streaks.  Also, the team that had no business taking the Caps to seven games two years ago but did it anyway.  Now, the Rangers just lost their heart-and-soul guy, possibly their best all-around player, with a broken ankle.  Or foot.  Something down there.  So that'll hurt.  The last time these two teams played in the playoffs, New York's coach got suspended for squirting water at some fans.  This has the potential to get nastsy, especially if the Caps start to find themselves in panic mode. 
Prediction: Washington in six

#2 Philadelphia Flyers vs #7 Buffalo Sabres
In recent history, the team that loses the Stanley Cup Final rarely does well the next year in the playoffs if they even make the playoffs.  The Flyers made it and won their division, but they were terrible down the stretch (which shows you how good they must have been the rest of the year, if they were still tops in the Atlantic).  Their D-corps is pretty scary when everybody's healthy and they have a lot of guys are legitimate playoff-type players.  The question mark, as always, is in goal, where they've got a rookie who came out of nowhere to win the starting job and has done pretty well.  But nobody's ever seen him play a playoff game, so we'll see.  Meanwhile, Buffalo's got Ryan Miller in goal, and Miller is good enough to steal a series.  This will all depend on which Flyers team shows up: the team from the first 3/4 of the season or the team we've seen lately.  Still, I'll go with the Cup Final Loser trend, because one aberration in twenty years means it's probably still a safe bet. 
Buffalo in seven

#3 Boston Bruins vs #6 Montreal Canadiens
What you need to know: Last year, Boston held a 3-0 series lead against the Flyers (you have to win four games to win the series) and then lost the next four.  Montreal upset top-seeded Washington and defending Cup champ Pittsburgh behind a hot goalie before petering out, again against the Flyers.  Also: Boston and Montreal always give us the most hard-fought series in the entire post-season whenever they play.  And the underdog often seems to win.  Also: there has been a LOT of hate between these two teams this year.  I hope this series goes long, because every game should be an adrenaline rush, even to watch. 
Bruins in seven.

#4 Pittsburgh Penguins vs #5 Tampa Bay Lightning
These are my two horses in this race, and I'm sad that they play each other so soon.  Pittsburgh has been pretty lights-out lately, which is impressive because they have been playing without Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin (their top two players, also two of the top five players in the world) since about New Year's.  There's a chance Crosby could return if they go far enough in the playoffs.  Malkin is pretty much done.  But this is a team that fights for one another every shift, and that's what you gotta do to win in the SCP.  If Sid the Kid does return, it's hard to see anyone stopping this team.  Tampa's got a lot of star power, a vastly underrated blueline, and a young coach who is smart as a whip.  Plus, they've got a 41-year-old goalie who's been waiting for a legitimate shot at the Cup his entire career. He came close in 2006 with Edmonton (wow that seems forever ago) but got injured in game one and missed the entire rest of the series (which his team lost in seven games).  He's gonna be pretty geared up for this. 
Pittsburgh in five

In the west:

#1 Vancouver Canucks vs #8 Chicago Blackhawks

The Hawks have knocked the Canucks out the last two seasons.  After watching these two teams play last playoffs, I said, "Vancouver will win the Cup in 2011."  No one was around me, so I have no proof, but I said it. Vancouver won best record, but that may be a tad misleading because the Northwest Division was just awful this year.  Nevertheless, they did lead the league in goals for, goals against, and powerplay.  They were second in the league on penalty kill.  The only other teams in league history to lead in those three categories in the same year all went on to win it all.  Nevertheless, these Hawks are plucky.  They are a beast of a #8 seed.  Despite having to blow up their Cup Championship roster to fit under the salary cap, they're still dangerous, and they could have what it takes to bounce the Presidents Trophy winners.  After all, Vancouver's all-world goaltender doesn't exactly have an impressive playoff resume...
Canucks in six

#2 San Jose Sharks vs # 7 Los Angeles Kings
An all-California ticket!  I'd have rather the Ducks played the Kings, because that would just have gotten nasty, but this will be fun, too.  Nevertheless, LA is without their leading scorer, and San Jose is just a beast offensively.  I like LA, I think they're tenacious, but I don't think they're going to pull it off.
Sharks in five (close ones)

#3 Detroit Red Wings vs #6 Phoenix Coyotes
The Yotes almost upset the Wings last year, but they just couldn't do it without their captain and star player.  Honestly, I'm still not sure how Phoenix is so dang competitive with the roster they have, but they are.  Also, Detroit is ailing.  They've had some key guys hurt and I'm not sure how healthy they are when they're coming back. Plus, I don't think Jimmy Howard is a playoff goalie.  Still, it's always tough to pick against Detroit this early in the playoffs.
Wings in seven

#4 Anaheim Ducks vs #5 Nashville Predators
Anaheim's RPG line (Ryan-Perry-Getzlaf) is a three-headed monster.  The top half of Nashville's defensive unit is a war machine.  So that should be an awesome matchup.  The Ducks caught fire at the end of the year to charge from tenth to fourth in the last week or so behind the inspired play of Masterton Trophy Candidate Ray Emery in goal.   Offense, you have to give Anaheim the edge.  Defense, it's clearly Nashville.  Grit is a toss-up.  This will be a tough, punishing series, but in the playoffs it's generally defense that wins out.
Nashville in six.

The long, long season is over.  The losers have been left behind.  There are no more easy games from this point on.  Guys are going to play with bruised ribs, cracked ribs, cracked feet, facial lacerations, Charley horses, pulled muscles, and just about anything else they can stand upright through with the help of some pain meds.  Hearts will be broken.  Careers will be crushed.  Heroes will be born.  Lots of grown men will cry.  And there's always the off-chance that we'll get one of those six-hour-long games. 

The gauntlet begins. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

v2, d314: Old(er)

Man.  It's a good thing I started not-blogging when I did.  Because the day after that last post was not good

On the whole, however, things are good.  I even got a fair amount of sleep one night last week.  (I think it was Thursday)  And yes, I am blogging in the middle of my work day, but the Production Stage Manager already did it today, so it's okay. 'Sides, I'm working phone shift this afternoon, so I have to sit by this phone and there's not much else to do.  I'd have brought my library book down with me, but I didn't expect to have this long of a phone shift, and anyway I was getting a bit sleepy (think I may have fallen asleep in the chair once already) and was afraid I wouldn't be able to focus on the little words printed on the page.  That said, my afternoon cup of joe was pretty darn good and effective, so I'm back up to firing on several cylinders. (I won't say all, but it's better than one)

Looked into the bathroom mirror last night before brushing my teeth and discovered a much older man that I'd expected to see staring back through the glass.  I don't mean to say "Oh my gosh I'm so OLD my life is HALF OVER what have I DONE with my EXISTENCE" or anything along those lines that generally hit when you're speeding toward another birthday near the bit 3-0.  It wasn't a demoralizing realization. Just a somewhat-alarming observation.  I searched my own face--and I know a lot of the features are a bit exaggerated just now due to fatigue--and I found absolutely zero trace of anything I'd consider "youth."  I saw none of the spark from High School Will, none of the zip of Undergrad Will, none of the energy of Newlywed or Intern Will.  Just the eyes, cheeks, forehead, and chin (et cetera) of a man who used to be those things and has now left them all behind him.  From a physical standpoint (at least), I'm not young anymore.  I'm not old, I know that, and I haven't reached that mythical "middle aged" yet, so I'm not certain exactly where I fit, but I'm definitely not "young."  My body is past its natural peak.  It now requires effort to remain healthy.  And, while I don't anticipate leaving this globe for another thirty years at least, the end of each year now signifies a season I'll never get back. 

None of this is bad, by the way.  It's part of life, and life is a good process.  Still, it was a bit of a shock.  The man in the mirror was not the same man who's been residing in my mind's eye these past few years.  It'll probably take some getting used to, placing this guy in the space of my self-image previously inhabited by a younger guy in a bright orange T-shirt.  Especially since this guy owes so much to that guy.  I will miss that guy when a big rock show comes to town, or when my single or not-with-children friends want to do something a 7 p.m. some evening, or even when an assignment involves a lot of vigorous physical activity (whether it be a show, a strike, moving, or crawling around on the floor with trucks and trains).  But there is no way that guy could shoulder the blessings and burdens that he laid the foundations for.  

I may expound on this line of thinking further at some point.